Today, I spoke with Alexandra Levit, who is the author of New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career, a columnist for The Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal and a gen-y expert and speaker. I’ve interviewed Alexandra before about her previous book called How’d You Score That Gig? In this interview, she goes over career reinvention, why now is a good time to rethink your job, when making a career move makes sense and more.
How do you define career reinvention?
“Career reinvention is the process of analyzing the type of work you find personally meaningful and taking steps to pursue that work, either by expanding or reinvigorating the job you have, or changing your role or your field.”
When did you decide to depart corporate America and get involved in the career space?
My second act started mostly by accident. The transition from college to career was extremely difficult for me. I watched as people with half my work ethic got promoted ahead of me, and my first boss hated me so much I thought I had killed her mother in a past life! I was so miserable that I used to crawl under my desk, getting my brand new Nine West suit impossibly wrinkled, and bawl my eyes out.
I knew things had to change, so I started taking personal development classes. When things finally started moving in the right direction, I wanted to share what I’d learned with other twenty-something employees. I went out with the idea for my first book, They Don’t Teach Corporate in College. The book was acquired by a small publisher, and I was fortunate that it sold well. I was doing better in my marketing communications career than I ever had before, but the next thing I knew I was being asked to write for respected media outlets and travel around the country to speak. The success of They Don’t Teach Corporate in College, which was originally intended as a side project, had established my platform as career expert.
Why is now a good time to rethink your current job?
It used to be that only celebrities like Madonna reinvented themselves. But this is the twenty-first century, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the average young American will have about 9 jobs between the ages of 18 and 32, and between 5.3 million and 8.4 million people ages 44 to 70 already are involved in “second act” careers. Today’s employees are not content to view a job as a paycheck. On the eve of economic recovery, more than half of employed individuals say they’re planning a career change in order to pursue more meaningful work, and if you’re in the ten percent of people who is currently unemployed, this is the push you need. There is no better time.
How is this book different/similar to your previous books?
Even before the economy tanked, career change was the topic I was most being asked about on college campuses and at association conferences. There were a few books on the topic already, but they all featured stories from renowned executives and celebrities who catapulted to the top 1% of their profession. I couldn’t personally relate to these people because I didn’t understand their motivations and didn’t feel that there was any real chance of becoming that successful. I wanted to write a career change book about normal people, for normal people, and that’s how New Job, New You came about.
In my early research, I discovered that career changers have several common motivations for their decisions, but such motivations haven’t really been explored in the career advice genre. I thought that they should be discussed, however, because how you go about a career change depends on your unique circumstances. The motivations I selected are:
- Family: When true work/life balance becomes a necessity
- Independence: When you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug
- Learning: When your bookish, curious side takes over
- Money: When an increase in earning potential is on the horizon
- Passion: When you yearn to do what you love with all of your heart
- Setback: When one door closes, another one opens
- Talent: When you’re too good at something not to give it a shot
I hope that readers realize that they don’t have to take a job – or stay in one – that they dislike. New Job, New You is similar to my other books in that the concrete advice and steps provided will allow readers to go out tomorrow and take action. All readers can be in the same enviable situation as the profiles in New Job, New You. The book gives them the tools to get there.
One major difference is that New Job, New You is the first book to have supplementary content to go along with it. The 60 minute career change webinar featuring Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is offered for free with every book purchase.
How does one know that they should make a career move? Are there signs?
There are definitely signs. For example, if your work often feels frustrating and unnatural to you, or if upon winning the lottery, you could walk away from your job and never look back, then it may be time to find work that’s more personally meaningful to you. I encourage everyone to take this quiz to assess if they are in fact ready for a career change.
Alexandra Levit is a nationally recognized business and workplace author and speaker. A syndicated columnist for the Wall Street Journal and a blogger for HuffingtonPost.com, Alexandra has authored several books, including the popular They Don’t Teach Corporate in College (second edition published in spring 2009 from Career Press), How’d You Score That Gig? (Random House/Ballantine, 2008) and Success for Hire (ASTD Press, 2008). Alexandra’s latest book is called New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career. Alexandra makes frequent national media appearances and has been featured in thousands of outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, National Public Radio, ABC News, Fox News, CNBC, the Associated Press, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Fortune, and her articles regularly appear on the home pages of CNN, MSN, and Yahoo!.